In a new column, The Professionals turns the spotlight on the media and asks journalists what makes them tick? We want to know what they look for in a good story, how best to pitch stories, and how PR professionals in law and accountancy can best engage.
In this interview we meet Maria Bracken, a freelance journalist with a keen interest in the hospitality sector.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Maria Bracken and I have over 15 years experience working in the hospitality industry. I started my journalism career at Dewberry Redpoint publishers where I covered all aspects of foodservice through a range of online and print publications. These included launching and editing Verdict Foodservice, formerly known as Eat Out magazine – a market-leading provider of hospitality industry news and views – and producing innovative content for Stockpot magazine, the official publication for the Craft Guild of Chefs. I also launched Lunch Business magazine, a title targeted at the grab & go sector, along with its annual awards ceremony. I am now a passionate freelance writer – offering PR support, copy and feature writing for all areas of the hospitality sector.
Do you focus on any particular industry or sector?
Hospitality is my passion. The UK has one of the most dynamic and diverse hospitality sectors in the world and this is something I am excited to be a part of. The industry has many valuable roles, with a key one bringing people together, and that’s what I love the most about it. Particularly following Covid-19, hospitality has proven nothing but resilience, unity and pure talent, and I look forward to continuing to support the industry where I can.
What do you look for in a story?
A story that is unique and relevant in terms of industry and readership. Leads need to be creative and impactful – supported by industry facts and expert commentary.
What makes a good pitch?
A good pitch needs to have a clear message supported by background/research and also have a clear angle. It also needs to be punchy and to the point. You want to intrigue the editor and give them the facts they will want to know without taking up too much of their time.
Relationships are also key. Editors want to have the confidence in PRs that they know their publication inside out and are therefore pitching a story that could have real potential. So get to know the editorial team as well as their portfolio.
How can professional services PRs engage with you? Do you prefer email, phone calls, is there a good or bad time? Are you open for commissions?
Everyone is different when it comes to communication, but personally I prefer contact via email. This gives me time to read and digest the content that has been given to me. If I am interested in the pitch then I can always follow up with a call or meet in person (or virtually) to speak about it in more detail.
Yes, I welcome commissions. Being proactive and communicating well is the key to a healthy working relationship.
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